Monday, August 20, 2012

Letters to Erik: Love Never Dies!

Erik is dead. Or so said a line in the paper. Christine made her choice or we may even say her bed and now she's got to lie in it...alone. Raoul has whisked Christine, his bride, away to Sweden and a new life with only servants for company in their new palatial home. She pines for Paris and her life at the Opera House...and for the person who seemed, in retrospect, to know her and her desires better than anyone.
Yes, bad choice, Christine. While Raoul spends his nights in his own room, Christine writes letters to Erik, telling him everything about her marriage, her loneliness, and her realization that HE was the one she truly loved. She writes stacks of letters and keeps them hidden in a jewelry box Erik had made for her. Along with his mask.
If he was alive, could he ever forgive her? This is the premise of the heartfelt and charming novel by An Wallace. It's an interesting concept and we learn all about Christine's life with Raoul who has gone from being that boy who rescued her scarf to a nasty, controlling type who doesn't want her to share her voice, let alone her heart, with anyone! We can picture him twirling his mustache, here. Boo! Hiss!
This is all just the first part of the story. Surprises of all kinds await as we learn the secret of Erik's final resting place, and hooray! The Persian is back! and ready to assist Christine in her plan to leave the letters at the Opera Ghost's tomb. Those most intimate, tell everything to a dead man missives...
that are immediately snatched up by someone who shall remain nameless! Speaking of names... well, the Recommender's policy is to never give too much away... so you'll really have to discover all the surprises this story has to offer for yourself! If you love the Phantom you won't want to miss out on this memorable take on the classic.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Anything But Ordinary:

The Recommender is recommending Lara Avery's Anything But Ordinary this week because it is an Olympic summer and Bryce Graham, our heroine in this extraordinary story, is an Olympic contender. She is a 17 year old diver who, when reporters asked her her secret, replied concentration, or focus... but never mentioned fear. Or space. The lack of it... the length of a cicada (relevent when you read the story), one inch...was all it took to end Bryce's career at the Nashville Olympic Diving Trials when she overshoots her dive by that amount and hits her head on the cement.
She wakes to find herself in a hospital. Machines are beeping. Her parents are there but they look different, somehow. Her Mom's hair is shorter. Her Dad's thinner. She'd been in a coma, apparently... but for how long? She asks and her parents and the doctor all glance at each other. Where's her little sister? "She's... gotten older. We all have, even you" her mother tells her. What IS going on?
Then a strange girl enters her room. She's dressed in fishnets and boots. Wait a minute. Is THAT her 12 year old sister, Sydney? She asks Sydney her age and she tells her...17. How can SHE be 17 when Bryce is 17? Or WAS 17. She'd been asleep for 5 years! She was 22! A grown-up!
This is all just the beginning of a book that makes you appreciate every minute. Bryce is given her life back, but what she does with that life and how it affects her former best friend and her highschool boyfriend, her parents, her sister and... Carter, the caring young med student who befriends her (and what's his secret? Why does she feel like she knows him?) is what makes this such a compelling read.
Bryce is a young woman who comes alive on the page. We care about her.  It's such an unputdownable bittersweet story that you may want a box of tissues within easy reach. Or maybe two.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Break My Heart 1,000 Times

Daniel Waters is an author that the Recommender really enjoys. He was one of the first YA writers to use zombies in a completely original and believable way in the fictional reality of the world he created around teens living and "living impaired" in the Generation Dead series. He is also great at writing girl characters who come across as real whether they are zombies or goth girls or a girl like Veronica, or Ronnie as she's called, the protagonist in his new book, coming this October, with the best title I've heard in a while Break My Heart 1,000 Times.
Break My Heart takes place in a world and time after a horrifying disaster referred to as the Event, a sort of  9/11 type catastrophe. The world in which Veronica and her mother reside is a world filled with ghosts. Many are the ghosts of those who perished in that event, but many just appear at random. Some appear on a daily basis, like Ronnie's Dad who went into the city on the day of the Event and never returned, though his image appears every morning at the breakfast table, reading the paper and sipping coffee for several minutes before vanishing to reappear the next morning.
It's unnerving, to say the least, but Mr. Waters embodies the disembodied with an empathy that makes you feel it's completely natural to see ghosts continuing to collect the mail in their bathrobes, or show up in your bathroom while you're having a shower or... day after day knock on the door of your history teacher, the guy who lives down the street.
Ronnie escapes the ghost of her family life by serial dating guys from school. She doesn't want anything too complicated, but then finds herself attracted to the nice, smart and cute Kirk. Not her usual type, but there's something about him. He's kind and attentive, in a good way, so when their English teacher, a man with a ghost fixation encourages Kirk to film some of the ghosts around town for extra credit, Ronnie joins him on an investigation that uncovers mysteries long unsolved.
This is, honestly, a book you won't be able to put down. I found myself thoroughly immersed in this world of ghosts and the human horror living among them and adding to their population. It has one of the creepiest villains imaginable and even he gets some sympathy from the author! There are moments where you'll find yourself yelling at your book, or Kindle, or what have you, warning the characters of what lies in wait! That doesn't happen too often. And neither does a haunting story like this one!